The third season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror premiered on Netflix earlier this month and has quickly replaced Stranger Things as the number one topic of discussion among pop culture obsessed viewers. If you haven’t seen Black Mirror, you can think of it as a modern take on The Twilight Zone. It’s an anthology series with each episode containing a complete, self-contained story. There is an over arching theme to the series, though. Each episode explores high-tech near-future where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide. As its title suggests, Black Mirror is a dark series, warning that the opportunities of technology might come at the price of our worst nightmares.
If you’re a Netflix subscriber who hasn’t seen Black Mirror, it is highly recommended. If you’re intrigued but don’t have Netflix, you can borrow one of our Roku streaming devices. Hook it up to your TV and home internet and use our Netflix subscription.
If you’ve already watched all the episodes and want more, Lincoln Michel at GQ Magazine has put together a list of 12 books to read after watching Black Mirror.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
When the story opens, Snowman is sleeping in a tree, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Snowman explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes – into his own past, and back to Crake’s high-tech bubble-dome, where the world came to grief.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it. Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of Hailsham.
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, following the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the idea of progress as society’s white knight.
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
Rebecca Wright has gotten her life back, finding her way out of grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the Internet dating site where she first met her husband. However, she has a persistent, strange sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into a room and forgotten what she intended to do there; on TV, the President seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place; and each night she has disquieting dreams that may or may not be related to her husband Philip’s pet project. Philip’s decade-long dedication to the causality violation device (which he would greatly prefer you do not call a time machine ) has effectively stalled his career and made him a laughingstock in the physics community. But he may be closer to success than either of them knows or imagines.
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes. The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity’s self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself.
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
Bob Arctor is a junkie and a drug dealer, both using and selling the mind-altering Substance D. Fred is a law enforcement agent, tasked with bringing Bob down. It sounds like a standard case. The only problem is that Bob and Fred are the same person. Substance D doesn’t just alter the mind, it splits it in two, and neither side knows what the other is doing or that it even exists. Now, both sides are growing increasingly paranoid as Bob tries to evade Fred while Fred tries to evade his suspicious bosses. In this award-winning novel, friends can become enemies, good trips can turn terrifying, and cops and criminals are two sides of the same coin. Dick is at turns caustically funny and somberly contemplative, fashioning a novel that is as unnerving as it is.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
In this hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive novel, Japan’s most popular (and controversial) fiction writer hurtles into the consciousness of the West. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is simultaneously cooler than zero and unaffectedly affecting, a hilariously funny and deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.
Infomocracy by Malka Older
It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line. With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?
A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson
A stuffed bear’s heart beats with the rhythm of a dead baby; Reno keeps receding to the east no matter how far you drive; and in a mine on another planet, the dust won’t stop seeping in. In these stories, Brian Evenson unsettles us with the everyday and the extraordinary–the terror of living with the knowledge of all we cannot know.
The Wilds by Julia Elliott
At an obscure South Carolina nursing home, a lost world reemerges as a disabled elderly woman undergoes brain-restoration procedures and begins to explore her environment with the assistance of strap-on robot legs. At a deluxe medical spa on a nameless Caribbean island, a middle-aged woman hopes to revitalize her fading youth with grotesque rejuvenating therapies that combine cutting-edge medical technologies with holistic approaches and the pseudo-religious dogma of Zen-infused self-help. And in a rinky-dink mill town, an adolescent girl is unexpectedly inspired by the ravings and miraculous levitation of her fundamentalist friend’s weird grandmother. In these genre-bending stories, teetering between the ridiculous and the sublime, Elliott’s language-driven fiction uses outlandish tropes to capture poignant moments in her humble characters’ lives.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang presents characters who must confront sudden change – the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens – while striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. In the amazing and much-lauded title story, a grieving mother copes with divorce and the death of her daughter by drawing on her knowledge of alien languages and non-linear memory recollection. A clever pastiche of news reports and interviews chronicles a college’s initiative to “turn off” the human ability to recognize beauty in “Liking What You See: A Documentary.” With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty and constant change, and also by beauty and wonder.
In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
Talking candy bars, baby geniuses, disappointed mothers, castrated dogs, interned teenagers, and moral fables—all in this hilarious and heartbreaking collection from an author hailed as the heir to Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon.